Airport Friendly Duds Becoming Popular

Dec 10, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

One of the grim realities of post 9/11 America is that law-abiding citizens are increasingly inconvenienced, some would say harassed, in the name of security.

This is especially true in airports where men and women find themselves being taken to the side for a sweep of a wand because a metal detector has sounded the alarm. In some
cases, travelers are being subjected to pat-downs.

Travelers’ desire to run the security gauntlet without setting off alarms so they can make connections at busy airports such as O’Hare in Chicago or Hartsfield in Atlanta has
created a demand for what the shoemaker Florsheim calls “airport friendly” apparel.

In the case of Florsheim, Johnston & Murphy and Rockport, reports the Washington Post, this means footwear without metal shanks in the soles. Florsheim, according
to the report, goes as far to tag shoes with this feature.

“We had requests, mainly from airline pilots, asking which shoes were airplane friendly,” said Thomas W. Florsheim Jr., chief executive of Weyco Group Inc., the parent company
of Florsheim. “It seemed like we were getting more inquiries from our people who sell our shoes.”

Rick Pyatt, director of government relations at Goodrich Corp., goes to the airport planning to remove his shoes whether he’s asked to or not. “It’s frustrating because [the
shoe removal rules are] different airport-to-airport,” he said. “I try not to wear shoes with laces to the airport.”

The increase in the number of women taking part in terrorist activities in places around the world has also led to increased scrutiny of female travelers. Many women have complained
about the pat-downs believing they have been touched in an inappropriate manner. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently amended its policy to allow women to
keep their arms down at their sides instead of holding them out during a pat-down.

Jayne Thompson, a Lutheran pastor in Manhattan, Kan., said she was recently patted-down even though she did not set off any alarms. As a form of protest, she’s decided that the
next time she goes to the airport she is going to wear her sports bra and her clerical shirt. “If they insist on doing the pat-down, I’m going to take my shirt off,” she said.

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the airport friendly clothing market? Are there other realities of post 9/11 America that have created
other retail marketing opportunities?

George Anderson – Moderator

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